Do you crank up the volume when your favorite tune comes on the radio? Many people do that. There’s something visceral about pumping up the music. And it’s something you can really take pleasure in. But, here’s the thing: it can also result in some considerable damage.
The relationship between music and hearing loss is closer than we once concluded. Volume is the biggest issue(this is in regards to how many times each day you listen and how excessive the volume is). And many musicians are rethinking how they approach managing the volume of their music.
Musicians And Hearing Loss
It’s a fairly famous irony that, when he got older, classical composer Ludwig van Beethoven was hard of hearing. He couldn’t hear any of the music he created (except in his head). On one occasion he even had to be turned around to see the thunderous applause from his audience because he wasn’t able to hear it.
Beethoven is definitely not the only example of hearing issues in musicians. Indeed, a far more recent generation of rock musicians, all known for turning their speakers (and performances) up to 11–are now going public with their own hearing loss experiences.
From Eric Clapton to Neil Diamond to will.i.am, the stories all seem remarkably similar. Being a musician means spending nearly every day sandwiched between blaring speakers and booming crowds. The trauma which the ears experience on a daily basis gradually leads to noticeable harm: hearing loss and tinnitus.
Not a Musician? Still a Problem
As a non-rock star (at least in terms of the profession, everybody knows you’re a rock star in terms of personality), you could have a difficult time relating this to your own concerns. You don’t have millions of cheering fans screaming for you (usually). And you don’t have huge amplifiers behind you every day.
But you do have a pair of earbuds and your favorite playlist. And there’s the concern. It’s become effortless for each one of us to experience music like rock stars do, at way too high a volume.
The ease with which you can expose yourself to damaging and constant sounds make this once cliche complaint into a substantial cause for concern.
So When You’re Listening to Music, How Can You Protect Your Ears?
So, first we need to admit there’s an issue (that’s usually the first step, but it’s particularly true in this case). People are putting their hearing in jeopardy and have to be made aware of it (especially more impressionable, younger people). But you also should take some other steps too:
- Wear ear protection: Use earplugs when you go to a concert or any other live music show. Your experience won’t be diminished by using ear plugs. But they will safeguard your ears from the most harmful of the damage. (And don’t assume that using hearing protection will make you uncool because it’s what the majority of your favorite musicians are doing.).
- Download a volume-checking app: You might not realize just how loud a rock concert or music venue is. Wherever you find yourself, the volume of your environment can be assessed with one of several free apps that can be downloaded to your smartphone. As a result, when dangerous levels are reached you will know it.
- Manage your volume: If you exceed a safe listening level, your smartphone might let you know. You should listen to these safety measures if you value your long-term hearing.
In many ways, the math here is rather simple: you will have more serious hearing loss in the future the more you put your hearing at risk. Eric Clapton, for instance, has completely lost his hearing. If he knew, he probably would have begun protecting his ears sooner.
The best way to limit your damage, then, is to minimize your exposure. That can be difficult for individuals who work around live music. Part of the strategy is wearing hearing protection.
But we all would be a lot better off if we just turned the volume down to reasonable levels.